15 Fan Engagement Ideas

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Here’s 10 ideas to engage fans – take ‘em, break ‘em and make ‘em your own:

Twitter

  1. Complete the sentence: @PlayerOnTwitter hits like a _______ !
    • Swap players in and out, use other attributes as well…
    • Use #’s to measure and track, also for trending purposes
    • RT what fans push out… show em you are listening
  2. Ok fans, let’s get it trending… RT #GoYourTeamGo!
    • Use other #’s depending on the game situation
      • Use humor, be fun
  3. Fans – send us  a pic or tweet in your @Team gear
  4. Who will score the 1st #YourTeam goal tonight?
  5. RT @SomeFan: What a wicked play!
    • RT what fans are tweeting for key moments in games
    • Use them for game updates – don’t have to come up with them all
  6. Hey fans – send a tweet to our opponent tonight, let @otherteam know we’re ready for ‘em!
  7. If there’s 1 thing that makes #YourTeam fans the best, its _________
  8. #YourTeam fans – what’s your pre-game ritual?
  9. Where are you watching from tonight #YourTeam fans? Let us know…

Facebook

  1. Post a pic from featuring action from the next opponent: Ok fans – write a caption for this photo
  2. Do a fan poll once per week as a standard engagement practice
    • Why not look for a sponsor for this?
  3. Ask for pics from fans decked out in their team gear
  4. Scan for fan questions – answer them/direct them to the right email or phone #
  5. Thank fans for uploading their photos
  6. Comment on their status updates/posts

What Is Your Digital Return?

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DRO.

Digital Return Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s what I do.

Every team/project is different. Some are focused on fan engagement, some on driving ticket sales, others on sponsor activations. Either way – DRO is a methodology of determining what kind of “return” is desired from digital efforts and investments.

When ever I start a new project, I am often asked,How are we doing?. My response is always the same… I don’t know, what are you trying to do?

That kind of dialogue usually is in reference to a teams’ social media activities. But a lot applies to web sites as well. It comes down to a Content Management Strategy (or lack there of). It’s no longer ok to simply participate in the social space and have a 3rd party validate your efforts. Goals for social are as important as any other facet of marketing, and the plan of “social too” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

If this has been your process, don’t sweat it. You can change this. Deciding to change it is the easy part – how to change it and what it should look like is another story. That’s usually where I come in…

Teams have been working with social/digital for long enough now to have some things to measure. Start by looking back at your digital returns – the numbers and the dollars.

  • Do you like what you see?
  • How did you get those returns?
  • What’s missing?
  • What is a priority?

Those are the questions I’d start asking you. Then we start writing the story – last page first. Identify what we want to get out of this and then find ways to make it happen.

Social Media is Still Social – Isn’t it?

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In doing some regular review of how teams operate their Facebook Page, I noticed how little the teams were connecting with fans.

Every Facebook Page has a button where you can display posts from the Page or the posts from the fans as a default. Very few teams prioritize their fans’ post over their own – this makes no sense to me…

Social marketing should be… SOCIAL.

Teams would counter that their content gets lost in the stream of fan posts quickly.  Social marketing isn’t just about dropping links to the team site. Maybe I’m wrong, but last time I checked, Facebook was all about the fans.

Yes – I’ve preached about corporate sales presence in social media (a lot). And yes, a post with corporate content could get lost very quickly – but who says a single post had any real value to a corporate partner in the first place? Corporate sales needs to be more of a consistent presence/partnership – ideally, well integrated with the brand and fans alike.

If teams find it a problem that their fans are so talkative and engaged with their brand, then I think perhaps its time to return to the basics…

  • Up to 2/3rds of tweets should be @replys to fans
  • Leverage fan content by RT’ing it
  • Comment on Facebook photos
  • Thank fans for their comments
  • Customer service
  • Engaging corporate partnerships
  • Featuring content from fans
  • Providing exclusive content
  • 3-4 FB posts per day (few more on game days)
  • 1 tweet per hour on average
  • Interact with fans regularly
  • Ask for opinions, ideas

Social marketing is a dynamic place – not a static stream of team posts. These are your fans – treat them well. There are other digital assets like your website that are strictly focused on your content. Use social media for what it does best – being social. Build and reinforce those fan relationships and they will be more apt to consume/share your content, buy your product and be advocates of your brand. We call them fans – but they are your customers.

Populations, Engagement and Monetization

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I’ve seen a bunch of articles and tweets recently talking about “the direction” of social in 2011. One of the key themes has been that there will/should be a greater focus on engagement as opposed to sheer number of fans or followers in the social space.

As I see it, this has been the point all along. Having large numbers of fans/followers is quite meaningless unless they are engaged with what your team is doing. I’ve often said that I’d rather have 1000 fans that were really plugged into what I was doing, than 10,000 fans who paid little or no attention. Having said that, when looking to integrate corporate sponsorship activations, you need to demonstrate some worthwhile populations as well. It’s a balance that needs to be achieved. Engagement and populations are both important in combination.

Beyond the obvious benefits of fan loyalty, and the fact that the social space provides an opportunity for fans to interact with each other as well as the brand, there is a  key reason why engagement matters from a monetization perspective:

Engaged Fans Will Participate

When holding a contest or promotion, you want your fans to really grab on to your idea – especially if these promotions are sponsored activations. Beyond the opportunity to simply win something, ongoing engagement with fans simply helps to foster their participation and buy in when you ask them to.

Engagement is about the day-to-day interaction with fans. This is why you benefit from dedicated resources working in this space – commenting on photos that are uploaded, answering questions, thanking fans… that stuff matters and helps build/strengthen relationships. This needs to happen on a continual basis.

Selling in the social space can be tricky – you can easily pollute your Facebook Wall or Twitter stream with too much sponsored content. Fans will be more accepting of this content if the engagement levels are high and the “what’s in it for me?” factor is clear.

Too often, teams simply throw up content that is readily available elsewhere, like the team website. Social is all about engagement and fan content – so use the social space for what it does best. That takes time and resources, but the cost/time justification can be offset by appropriate monetization strategies.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Social Media Adoption: Slow Process for Teams

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Last year, many teams and leagues recognized the potential and flat out requirement to be more involved in social media – but how far have they come in adopting these sites for fan engagement or integrating sponsorship opportunities?

This is the high season for sports – the kick-off of the NFL season, MLB playoff races, the NHL season is about to start and the NBA is just around the corner. There are more eyeballs on more teams and leagues than any other time of year. Right now.

But is this opportunity being leveraged?

For the most part – I would suggest the answer is no. Despite interest, there is a lot of tire ticking and/or reluctance. There are also teams who are looking to be leaders but are not willing to put up the investment in time or dollars without the classic ROI path in advance.

There are some teams who are fully engaged – nothing new for the Phoenix Suns – well regarded as thought leaders in the sports and social media field. And there are other teams out there I am in conversation with and aware of who are taking the steps now to organize and launch major social media initiatives and sponsorship integrations.

This is the exciting future path – this is where thought leaders are taking the industry, and this is where the others will follow in time.

StampsConnect: Sports Social Media Aggregator

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Stampeders

What is the hotest new social media site in the world of sports marketing?

The site is www.stampsconnect.com and you should check it out.

It’s the new social media aggregator site from the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. The site was launched today to coincide with the 2009 season kicking off tomorrow (July 1).

What Makes StampsConnect.com Different?

You might have seen PlanetOrange.net, the social network hub of the Phoenix Suns – widely regarded as leaders in this kind of thing. It is great to see that other teams and leagues are now stepping up and doing some engaging work – especially from a (relatively) smaller market team like the Stampeders.

StampsConnect is 100% user generated content – it pulls content from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr and brings it into a single hub – this is most often called an aggregator. The site employs a “pull” strategy – StampsConnect pulls in content from other sources into a single place. As more and more teams look to 3rd party social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, I think it makes increasing sense to build some structure around that in order to centralize and manage it. In addition – it provides another opportunity for advertising and sponsorship activation.

If you are interested in StampsConnect and want to learn more – please use my Contact page. I will be happy to connect you with the development company.

Lastly – a question…

What do you think about teams using an aggregator such as this? Does it provide a useful layer of media? Will fans use it or simply access each social network site individually?

Relax – It’s only Social Media

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What exactly is social media – how does it redefine marketing?

I define social media simply as a communication platform that enables deep engagement. There seems to be a sense out there that social media means everything, and represents a revolution in marketing and communication. While I think  it’s true that social media is changing the landscape, there is much being defined and redefined right in front of our eyes, almost a living test run in action. This is the speed of technological change and adaptation today…

For example… Check out the most recent Facebook ToS (Terms of Service) flap and the related story on CNN – or evangelistic posts such as this that purport social media as the undeniable redrawing of the face of marketing.

It seems a bit funny that the basics of social media are so simple – user generated content and participation – and how social media has made such a splash and impact on marketing. It can seem like social media is so much of a buzzword, or something that appeared out of nowhere, but its evolution can be easily tracked. In addition, the huge layer of opinion and discussion generated through blogs and online communities provides a whole other element to the “phenomenon”.

Social media is a powerful and engaging platform – but the rush to categorize and historicize it as the greatest thing since (a. the printing press, b. television, or c. fire) sometimes only serves to intimidate and confuse…

Let’s keep this simple – Social media is:

  • Simple and/or Easy
  • Free and/or Inexpensive
  • Fun and/or Exciting

While social media maybe the greatest thing since sliced bread, whether or not it is redefining the concept of food and nutrition is another story for another day.

The point is – What are you doing with social media and your business today? It’s time to start with little steps…